Surveys show that in Canada, the most popular cannabis consumption method is smoking dried bud – particularly in the form of joints, with 64% of consumers saying they prefer to smoke doobs. Other common methods of consumption include vaporizing dried bud, oil vape pens, and edibles like THC-infused cookies and brownies. These are only a few of the ways to use cannabis that exist, although the only legal cannabis formats in Canada are currently dried bud and ingestible oils. Let’s take a look at some of the different possible cannabis consumption methods.
The most recognizable form of cannabis is dried bud. The bud is the trichome-covered flower that comes from the female cannabis plant, which undergoes a process of curing and drying before it’s ready to be tossed into a grinder and rolled into a joint, packed into a pipe or bong, or placed inside a vaporizer. The heat source combusts the plant material, and in doing so, activates the THC and other cannabinoids to make them absorbable by the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This process is called decarboxylation, and is an important concept to understand when looking at the different cannabis consumption methods.
While there are many ways to use cannabis, cannabis oil is a preferred method for people who may not wish to, or cannot for medical reasons, consume cannabis by inhalation. By using this format of cannabis, consumers can avoid some of the possible negative health effects of smoking. Furthermore, it is more discreet than dried bud since it has no odour and does not require any preparation. Cannabis oils are typically combined with a carrier, such as MCT oil or olive oil, and contain decarboxylated cannabis so that no heating is required.
Consumption methods for oils include ingesting the oil by itself, adding it into food or beverages, or taking a gel capsule (ideal for consistent dosage). Finally, cannabis tinctures can be made with oil or alcohol (the latter of which is not yet legal in Canada) and consumed with a dropper or as an oral spray.
An increasingly popular cannabis consumption method is ingesting food and beverages infused with cannabis. Known as “edibles,” some of the most common weed-infused foods include baked goods and gummy candies. Expected to be legal in Canada by October 2019, edibles have a much longer onset time than inhaling cannabis (1-2 hours instead of almost immediately) and the effects can last for several hours or more.
The variety of edibles available in Canada will surely skyrocket after phase 2 of legalization, and it will be interesting to see the innovative products that emerge. One novel beverage that will be developed upon edible legalization is THC and CBD-infused kombucha.
This cannabis consumption method is not for beginners and is not yet legal in Canada. Concentrates are exactly what they sound like: highly concentrated cannabis in a variety of formats. Extracting cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant is a complex process involving specialized equipment, which should not be attempted at home.
THC and other cannabinoids are captured by exposing cannabis to a solvent, such as butane, C02, or alcohol. The consistency, flavour profile and effects of the concentrate are determined by the inputs and process used. Without getting into too much detail about the different forms of concentrates, here are some of the most common ones – which can also be referred to as “dabs”:
- Live resin
Other forms of concentrates include hash and rosin, both of which are made by applying pressure and/or heat without the use of a solvent. Popular consumption methods for concentrates include “dabbing” – vaporizing the concentrate in a “dab rig”, a device that is similar to a bong – and adding on top of a joint or bowl. For this method in particular, it’s important to start low and go slow.
Another way to consume concentrates is with a vape pen. Typically, a concentrate must be combined with propylene glycol or an alternative substance to make it less viscous, before being poured into a vape cartridge and attached to a battery base for vaping on the go.
While not yet legal in Canada, there is a growing excitement about cannabis topicals – and for good reason! Topicals, including cannabis-infused creams and salves, provide a localized effect rather than being felt throughout the body. This can be useful for targeting a specific area, or for consumers who don’t wish to feel the head high typically associated with THC.
The possibilities for topicals are endless. The days of applying a CBD-infused face cream in the morning and using cannabis-enriched hand soap are likely not far away, as this cannabis consumption method continues to gain mainstream attention.
Yes, you read that right. While the jury is still out regarding the effectiveness of this route of administration, there are plenty of cannabinoid receptors located in the gastrointestinal tract (including the rectum) and the vaginal walls – meaning THC and other cannabinoids can bind to cells in these areas and potentially provide a localized effect. Cannabis suppositories typically consist of cannabis oil formed into an elongated shape which is then inserted into the anus or vagina.
For those who prefer not to inhale or ingest cannabis, or cannot do so for health reasons or dietary restrictions, this cannabis consumption method provides an alternative option.
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